There are 4 layers of abdominal muscles, but it’s the top layer that gives the trained, 6 pack look. The main action of the 6 pack muscles is flexing the spine. In everyday life the most common example is bending over. In fitness, the 6 pack is often worked lying on a mat, by curling the upper or lower spine off the floor.
A varied ab training program
This workout is for the top layer of abdominal muscle. The deeper layers are the ones which pull the abdominal area in flat, so for best results you should combine 6 pack training with exercise for the deeper muscles. See Core Exercises for Beginners or 10 Minute Pilates for more about this.
30 day challenge for 6 pack
This challenge uses the 2 standard curl exercises – the trunk curl and reverse curl. Each day you add a couple more reps, so you go from 10 reps on the first day to 60 on the last day. See below for links to a downloadable PDF of the challenge.
Instructions for the exercises
You’ve probably heard of/seen/done these exercises before, but good exercise technique is always important for safety and for best results, so here are the main technique points. For general exercise safety, please check my guidelines here.
Basic ab crunch
- Lay on a cushioned surface, knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip distance apart.
- Put the hands behind the head to prevent neck strain. You should just be supporting the head, not pulling on it. Keep the elbows relaxed out to the side.
- Tuck your chin in slightly
- Engage your abdominal muscles and curl your spine smoothly away from the floor. It shouldn’t be a jerky movement.
- Stop when the shoulder blades have left the floor and start to reverse the movement. Again, it should be a smooth, curling movement on the way down
Breathing: breathe out as you come up and in as you come down.
Reverse ab crunch
- This time, start by extending your legs so that they are vertical
- Engage your lower abs as you curl your lower spine off the mat. Again, it should be a smooth curling movement
- When the lower back has left the floor, start to reverse the movement – curl the spine back down under control
Breathing: breathe out as you lift the hips and in as you lower
Get started on the 6 pack challenge
Just follow the number of reps given for the chart each day to get to 60 reps after 30 days.